In today’s dynamic and diverse workforce, it is clear the demand for flexible working is increasing year on year; worker demand is up to 75 percent from 70 percent in 20171. More and more organisations are allowing staff to work where they want, in remote locations as well as in co-working spaces, and are even relying on more flexible workforce arrangements such as using more freelancers and contractors. In this multi-faceted environment, the regular 9-5 is a thing of the past and many types of workers are using various combinations of workplace solutions that include home working, business lounges and remote offices, as well as traditional office locations, rather than espousing a single solution.
Flexible working has become so engrained into modern working practices globally that many countries have included it in their legislation: in the Netherlands, employees with at least one year of service with an employer with at least 10 employees are entitled to ask for a change, increase or decrease in their working hours as well as the ability to work from another location; In Norway the Working Environment Act establishes the right to flexible working hours if this can be arranged without major inconvenience to the employer; the Australian Fair Work Act 2009 s.65, 144 and 202 allows employers and employees to make arrangements about working conditions that suit them; in the UK all employees that have worked for the same employer for at least 26 weeks may ‘make a statutory application’ for flexible working; while in Italy Law no. 81/2017, regulates “smart working,” and establishes the equality of workers performing the same duties even if remotely. Belgium also recently approved the “Workable and Flexible Work” Act which regulates teleworking.
The spread of flexible workspace of course is not merely driven by increasing worker demand but also by increasing awareness among business leaders globally of its pivotal role in achieving success.
One critical factor is the ability to use flexible working as a benefit to attract and retain top workers. Reports in the UK indicate that the cost to replace an employee earning the average UK salary of £27,721 reach £11,000 every time, equivalent to roughly 6 -9 months’ salary on average.
Clearly, replacing more senior director level staff could prove extremely expensive, so savvy businesses are using flexible working to improve retention and overall satisfaction through improved work-life balance and reducing commuting.